Energy News for February 20, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on February 20, 2015

POLITICO Morning Energy for 2/20/2015

By Darius Dixon, with help from Alex Guillén and Erica Martinson

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MONIZ: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will be in Perrysburg, Ohio, today with Export-Import Bank chief Fred Hochberg for a tour of a First Solar manufacturing plant. The tour will highlight the importance of the Ex-Im Bank as “a critical tool for Ohio manufacturers of all sizes as they compete to win overseas deals and grow through exports.” The Ex-Im Bank helped finance First Solar’s exports to India for that country’s National Solar Mission, which seeks to build out 20 gigawatts of grid-connected solar power by 2022. First Solar was also one of the biggest recipients of the Energy Department’s now-defunct 1705 loan guarantee program; it used the funds for projects that have long been generating power.

THE LATEST ON WEST VIRGINIA DERAILMENT: Since Monday’s oil train accident in West Virginia, CSX has re-railed at least six cars that had not been involved in the fires, according to an update from the Coast Guard. Oil transfers from damaged cars have also begun. Air and water is still being monitored in the area around the site, and “results continue to demonstrate no impact to the air quality or the Kanawha River.” Residents evacuated because of the accident have been allowed to return home. Coast Guard updates: and

Federal investigators will examine whether pressurized gas played a role in the blast, the Transportation Department said, according to Reuters. “Some experts say the nature of the explosion, which saw a dense cloud of smoke and flame soaring upwards, could be explained by the presence of highly pressurized gas trapped in crude oil moving in the rail cars.” Also, the train was traveling “well within the speed limit when it crashed,” the New York Times reports:

WELCOME TO FRIDAY, and to what I imagine springtime in Alaska feels like. I’m your host, Darius Dixon, and it’s not expected to crack 20 degrees here in Washington today with a wind chill of awful. Amid all the snow and frigid temperatures across the Northeast recently, WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer has regularly called on listeners to finish this sentence, “It’s so cold…” In your host’s humble opinion, a guy from Boston was the clear winner: “It’s so cold that the politicians are putting their hands in their own pockets.” Zing!

Send your energy commentary, news, scoops and tips to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

THEM! Congress will be back next week.

LIVING LIFE GEOGRAPHICALLY CHALLENGED: Yesterday, ME made the remark that Tesoro Corp.’s Martinez, Calif., facility and ExxonMobil’s explosion-stricken gasoline unit in Torrance were “nearby.” Well, they’re nearby if there were some sort of Japanese bullet train to help me out with the 380-plus miles between the locales. Until then, however, I trust our California readers will continue to keep ME from going astray.

NEW N.Y. ASSEMBLY SPEAKER CREATES CLIMATE PANEL: Recently anointed New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Thursday the creation of the chamber’s first climate change working group, Capital New York reports. The panel will explore state and federal policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Heastie this month became the first new Assembly speaker since 1994 after Sheldon Silver relinquished the post soon after being arrested on federal corruption charges at the end of January. Capital New York:

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A BIG YEAR FOR ETHANOL: The U.S. ethanol industry had its biggest year ever in 2014, according to the Renewable Fuels Association’s annual outlook report released yesterday. “The U.S. ethanol industry produced more than ever before, sold more than ever before, and experienced a period of profitability that rivals any previous year,” the report says. Net exports were up last year too, with American ethanol shipping to 51 countries. Production was more than three times higher than it was in 2005, at the start of the Renewable Fuel Standard program – a source of much aggravation for the ethanol industry over the past year, as the EPA has fallen years behind in issuing volume mandates. Despite last year’s success, the industry says the path of the RFS could have a huge impact on the future of ethanol. The report:

SUN MONEY: SunEdison Inc. and the SunEdison Foundation today are announcing a $5 million contribution to a philanthropic partnership with GRID Alternatives, kicking off a two-year initiative aimed at connecting the solar industry’s growing demand for skilled workers with communities that need jobs and job training. As part of the initiative, GRID Alternatives will provide 40 people with one-year paid fellowships in GRID Alternatives offices around the country, and SunEdison employees will donate more than 2,000 hours to install solar systems for low-income families and job-related support. More info: The initiative is being unveiled at a press conference this morning at the National Press Club.

ANTI-‘FERC’D’ GAS PROTESTS WILL RETURN: Before energy industry, regulators and analysts could tackle the heady issues posed by the EPA’s draft carbon rules, protesters with Beyond Extreme Energy and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network stood up, sang and waved signs that said things like “FERC’d Gas is Dirty Energy.” Some protesters weren’t all that impressed with the EPA’s proposed rules either, with one member later tweeting: “Any ‘clean power’ plan that enables dirty fracked gas extraction is a betrayal of people & planet.” But neither group is done yet. In fact, they intend to conduct “mass actions” at FERC between May 21 and 29, when the weather is a bit more protest-friendly.

JUST CALL ME ‘MR. X’: Former FERC Chairman Jim Hoecker, representing the transmission group WIRES, had a bit of fun Thursday. After FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable referred to him as “chairman,” Hoecker insisted that he didn’t deserve any special treatment. Instead, he offered a new title. “You needn’t call me chairman. Just call me Mr. Ex-Chairman,” he said. Hoecker got his wish… sort of. Honorable later called him “Mr. X.” And, much to ME’s delight, it seemed to stick. Commissioner Tony Clark and another panelist at the technical conference also used the moniker.

DIVESTMENTS ARE FOREVER: With Global Divestment Day/Weekend now past, a group of more than two dozen Harvard alums – including everywhere man and founder Bill McKibben, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West – are out today urging their alma mater to divest from fossil fuels. “[S]o far, the Corporation has not just refused to divest, they’ve doubled down by announcing the decision to buy stock in some of the dirtiest energy companies on the planet,” the group wrote. “We need the Corporation to announce, before the world’s leaders meet in Paris later this year for key climate negotiations, its plans to divest Harvard’s direct holdings in the 200 companies with the largest fossil reserves on earth.” Harvard has the largest endowment of any university in the country, which totals nearly $33 billion, according to U.S. News and World Report. The letter:

Two other names on the letter stuck out to ME besides Natalie Portman and former Sen. Tim Wirth: Rhea Suh, who became president of the Natural Resources Defense Council last month after a stint as an assistant secretary in Obama’s Interior Department. And then there’s director Darren Aronofsky, who made “Requiem for a Dream,” one of the most traumatizing movies I’ve ever watched.

SPEAK UP ON DRAFT REPORT STUDYING DOE LABS: If you want to praise and/or critique the 145-page draft interim report of the congressionally established commission set to review the Energy Department’s national labs, you’ve got to act fast. The draft report has been out for less than a week but you’ve got to get your written comments in today. The panel will also take in-person comments at its meeting Tuesday in Alexandria, Va. The draft interim report:


– Canada unveils new tax measures to boost LNG investment. Reuters

– California refinery unit was down with problems before blast. The Associated Press:

– No easy fixes for California’s isolated fuel market. Reuters:

– Sungevity tests solar financing strategy in NC. North Carolina News-Observer:

– Why everyone – even Warren Buffett – got oil prices wrong. The Washington Post:

– Alaska deep-water port proposed for vessels in Arctic waters. The Associated Press:

– Salt River Project revises solar rate hike. The Arizona Republic:

– Regulators approve latest spending on Vogtle nuclear plant. The Associated Press:

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